The UK has been supportive of Alliance 8.7 since its launch last year – we see it as an important tool in the global fight to end forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking.
From our perspective, the international response on this issue has been lacking coordination and cohesion. We have the legal frameworks that we need – through the ILO Forced Labour Protocol, and through the UNODC. There are many different organisations working on this issue both within and outside the UN. But we need to reach across traditional mandates, and country borders, to really scale up our response.
We see the Alliance as playing an important role in filling this gap by bringing together governments with UN organisations, civil society organisations, business from all regions – working with the existing UN processes such as ICAT.
In this respect, Alliance 8.7 should be about cooperation, advocacy, and scaling up action. It should be a forum for sharing of ideas and information, and help to promote a joined-up and coherent response; working to connect people and to help countries deliver commitments made through existing international processes.
We see four main areas that the Alliance could help us move forward as an international community:
helping to improve the global evidence base and understanding of ‘what works’ in tackling modern slavery – for example through the launch of the global estimates, and the forthcoming knowledge platform
working to help Member States coordinate their own response, by facilitating joint working between institutions and other stakeholders where requested
developing and sharing policy ideas and knowledge on specific policy areas, where there are gaps internationally – for example on supply chains, conflict and migration; and
providing a platform to share progress, and demonstrate good practice
On this last point, 40 countries have now endorsed the Call to Action to end forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking that our Prime Minister launched, together with other world leaders, at the UN General Assembly. The intent of this declaration is to give political momentum to our work, and put a focus on the key actions that need to be taken at both the national and international levels.
We hope that other members of the Alliance will join this initiative, and we would certainly hope that the Alliance could provide a platform for countries that have endorsed the Call to Action to demonstrate the progress they are making towards the commitments they have made through it.
In summary - we are very supportive of the Alliance as a nimble, inclusive initiative, which should be aimed at fostering the collaboration needed internationally to achieve SDG 8.7, and responsive to the needs of Member States.
One year on from its launch in 2016, Alliance 8.7 has come a long way – but it is important that we all work together to ensure that we can use this initiative in the best way possible and get the best results. As the Alliance grows, we need to ensure that the group of participants, whether it is governments, civil society organisations or businesses, is broadened out. Only by doing so will we make sure that the Alliance is sustainable and inclusive.